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American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have friends who worship Neil Gaiman. Before this, the only one of his works I had read was Good Omens, the book he wrote with Terry Pratchett. And I must confess I hadn't picked that up on my own--a friend handed it to me and said "You want to read this."

So I did, and I loved it. Most of the things I disliked about Pratchett were missing, and there was a...layer...that was very different that I ascribed to probably being Gaiman.

For years I'd been hearing about American Gods, and, finally, this summer, decided to "bite the bullet." Or, maybe, the bullet bit me.

I'm torn between a 4 and 5 star rating on this. Given how my mind is whirling because of the book, given how immersed I became in Shadow's experience, I'm leaning toward a 5. But I saw so many of the "big reveals" coming chapters in advance (perhaps because I'm fairly widely versed in the sacred literatures and figures of many world religions), some moments that were clearly supposed to be "revelatory" didn't pull it off. So, the leaning towards a four. And though I doubt it's the case, I was constantly asking myself how many times Gaiman saw "Who Mourns for Adonais," which was one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek. So much of this book reminded me of that incredibly sad episode.

Apollo: I would have cherished you, cared for you. I would have loved you as a father loves his children. Did I ask so much?
Capt. Kirk: We've outgrown you. You asked for something we can no longer give.
[Later, after they've destroyed Apollo, and he has "spread himself on the wind"]
Dr. McCoy: I wish we hadn't had to do this.
Capt. Kirk: So do I. They gave us so much ... Would it have hurt us, I wonder, just to have gathered a few laurel leaves?

I may never read Gaiman again. I'm not sure I want to hear his voice doing anything other than the two works of his I know now. I'm fairly certain that like War from Good Omens, Shadow, and Wednesday, and Mr. Nancy, and Zorya Polunochnaya will stay with me forever. Gaiman makes my head hurt--in all the best ways.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 15th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
I highly recommend a study in emerald, one of Gaimen's short stories and the graveyard book one of his young adult novels. I have a copy of the grave yard book from audible where he reads it himself and it is a excellent time.
Aug. 16th, 2012 08:46 am (UTC)
The graveyard book - I liked that one as well. Quite a lot. It stayed with me...
Aug. 16th, 2012 07:35 am (UTC)
So Gaiman really got his chops in the comic book world, and if you ever read those, I would recommend Sandman. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sandman_(Vertigo) )

For novels, I'd skip the AG sequel Anansi Boys. I liked it, but it would directly play into the worries you express in your last couple of sentences. I rather enjoyed Neverwhere; I haven't gotten around to reading Stardust yet (his first novel), but liked both the movie and a play adaptation I've seen.

Edited at 2012-08-16 11:35 am (UTC)
Aug. 16th, 2012 08:01 am (UTC)
If you do go for Anansi Boys (it seems unlikely), I'd suggest taking voice in a literal way, and listen to it as read/acted by Lenny Henry. It's available on Audible, or on CD.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )